Kick-off – Many disciplines, one challenge

At the first programme meeting, the researchers of NRP 72 "Antimicrobial Resistance" took the opportunity to get to know each other and share ideas - a key prerequisite in the search for ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Around 80 researchers from many disciplines met on 15/16 March 2017 for the kick-off meeting of NRP 72 at the Oekolampad in Basel: medical doctors, veterinarians, biologists and environmental scientists. And they are all working towards a common goal: to find new ways of tackling the worldwide increase in antimicrobial resistance.

The problem is complex. At its root are complicated processes and interactions between humans, animals and the environment. Effective solutions depend less on breakthroughs in individual disciplines than on researchers from across the spectrum joining forces to pursue a one-health approach.

Politics, economics and scientific details

This interdisciplinary approach, that takes account of the human, animal and environmental interactions, can only be successful if researchers work together and share ideas. This was one of the main messages of Dik Mevius' keynote speech, which he delivered at the beginning of the event. He analysed the scientific aspects of the resistance problem in detail and explained its political and economic context. He was able to draw on the extensive work done in the Netherlands, a country that has pioneered the one-health approach in the area of antimicrobial resistance (see link below to interview with Dik Mevius).

His speech was followed by a lively discussion, which showed that the researchers are clearly interested in sharing ideas. This was in evidence throughout the two-day event: after every project presentation, in breaks and in the evening the participants could be seen immersed in discussion. Some researchers even mentioned in their presentations that they had become aware of potential synergies with other projects only during the kick-off meeting.

Important partners from the practical realm

The scientists were not the only one's to use the kick-off meeting for networking. Two important experts responsible for knowledge transfer introduced themselves and their work and were able to meet many of the scientists. Karin Wäfler of the Federal Office of Public Health is the project leader of the National Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance (StAR). Together with Nadine Metzger of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office she presented a number of StAR implementation measures in the area of human and veterinary medicine. These measures often focus on changing the behaviour of experts, creating new incentives and introducing new treatment guidelines. Another guest at the event was offering support to researchers who wish to market new drugs and diagnostic methods: Beda Stadler, vice president of the Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI, encouraged researchers working in this area to rigorously pursue such plans.

In the next five years, the researchers of NRP 72 will search intensively for new solutions to tackle antimicrobial resistance. The programme's success will depend on the networking activities of the researchers and their collaboration with partners from the practical realm. The cornerstones of this approach were laid at the kick-off meeting.